What’s in your Purse? (Luke 6:27-38)

  An elephant was enjoying a leisurely dip in a jungle pool when a rat came up to the pool and insisted that the elephant get out. “I won’t,” said the elephant. “But I insist you get out this minute,” said the rat. “Why?” asked the elephant. “I shall tell you only after you are out of the pool.” The elephant refused, but his curiosity got the best of him. So he lumbered out of the water and stood in front of the rat, “Now, then, why did you want me to get out of the pool?” Said the rat, “To check if you were wearing my swimming trunks.”      An elephant will sooner fit into the trunks of a rat than God will fit into our notions of God. God is so much more than what believers typically believe about God. How much more? Well, in this text we get a glimpse of the more-ness of God, especially as this applies to God’s love and grace. God’s love far exceeds human notions of love.     Jesus says according to Luke,   But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who h

Taking Hold of Life that is Really Life (Luke 6:17-26; 1 Tim. 6:17-19)

    L ast week’s Lectionary text from the Gospel of Luke was the call of the first disciples in 5:1-11. From 5:12 through 6:16 Luke gathers together several controversy and call stories. The story that immediately precedes the Lectionary text of Luke 6:17-27 (Sixth Sunday after Epiphany) is the story of Jesus designating twelve of his disciples as apostles. Beginning at 6:20 and extending through 6:49 is a section of teaching that is somewhat parallel to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Luke omits several teachings that are in Matthew, though some of these teachings show up in Luke in different settings in abbreviated form. Luke inserts some unique material and in a few places the material appears in a different sequence than Matthew’s version. Luke 6:17-19 sets the context for the teaching that follows. In Matthew Jesus delivers this teaching on a mountain; in Luke Jesus teaches on a level place. The audience according to Luke includes the twelve apostles, a large crowd o

Going Deeper (Luke 5:1-11)

Jesus is becoming known throughout Galilee as a healer and exorcist. Luke, however, wants us to know that while Jesus heals all manner of sickness and casts out demons his first priority and foremost work is to announce the good news of the kingdom of God and teach about the ways of God in the world. At the end of chapter 4, as a prelude to our text today in Luke 5:1-11, the people of Capernaum tried to prevent him from leaving. But Jesus says, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to other cities also: for I was sent for this purpose.” Jesus had an itinerate ministry, going from place to place, and he knew that he needed to train disciples who could continue the work when he was gone. I think early on he sensed that he himself would not have long. He knew that the powers that be would find his work offensive. So he calls disciples, whom he will train, and to whom he will leave the work when he is gone. Our Gospel story today is the call of the first disciples. Luke’s

So Great a Salvation (Luke 4:14 - 21; Eph. 2:8 - 10)

  In my sermon last week from John 2:1-11 where Jesus attends a wedding in Cana of Galilee and changes water into wine, we saw how John invests statements, questions, images, as well as words, phrases, and concepts with multiple meanings. (This sermon can be accessed at the Immanuel Baptist Church, Frankfort, KY Facebook page – worship service for Jan 16, sermon starts at about 17.15). A statement or phrase or image may mean one thing on the conversational level, but have deeper spiritual or moral or theological meanings. Now, while this is most obvious in John, this is actually true of all the Gospels. This is most certainly true of our text today.   All three of the Synoptic Gospels include an account of Jesus teaching in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth where he grew up, and they all speak of his rejection by the people in Nazareth, but only Luke tells us what Jesus actually taught. Mark and Matthew’s account are very similar. Not word for word, but Matthew closely follow

The mythology of the demonic in individuals, institutions, and societies (Key text: Mark 1:12-15, 21-28)

  This is the first of several instances in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus confronts and expels an unclean spirit or spirits, also called demons. In the world of Jesus and other cultures, both then and even today, it was and is assumed that spirits, both good and bad, share this world with humans, and these spirits can take possession of human beings. I’m not sure how a modern day psychiatrists might describe or diagnose such a condition today. I suppose that in light of their training they would describe it in psychopathological terms. If you ask me what I believe about the existence of spirits in our world separate from humans I would say, “I am skeptical, but open to the possibility. Just because I have never encountered the phenomena does not mean they don’t exist.” But let me stress that a passage like this should not be read literally, but spiritually, that is metaphorically and symbolically. This is a religious text, and therefore should be read spiritually, not literally or historic